A quota of a different kind awaits medical students who are keen to pursue a post graduate course in medicine. The Union Health Ministry is mulling reservation of 25 per cent seats in PG courses for MBBS doctors who have practised for three years in rural areas.

The proposal, which was forwarded to the Health ministry by the Medical Council of India (MCI), is one of the many steps which the government is planning to take to address the problem of few doctors being keen to practise in rural areas.

“The Government has pumped in a huge amount of money to build infrastructure as part of the National Rural Health Mission, but due to lack of doctors, most of the Primary Health Centres and the Community Health Centres are shut,” MCI President Ketan Desai said.

Mr. Desai said the medical council had sent these proposals to the ministry along with others like a separate medical degree for the rural practitioners and extra marks for PG students who have practised in rural areas.

The MCI has called a meeting on February 4 and 5 with principals of 300 medical colleges, the Directors of Medical Education of all states and Union Health Ministry officials in this matter.

The Centre is also contemplating a separate, shorter duration bachelor of medicine course for students of notified rural areas in the country.

The hinterland, where few doctors want to serve, could soon have a dedicated corps of medical practitioners drawn from among students raised in rural areas.

The novel scheme would comprise of a medical degree of 3-1/2-year duration in institutes set up in rural areas. The Bachelor of Rural Medicine and Surgery (BRMS) degree would be offered by institutes in rural areas with an annual sanctioned strength of either 25 or 50 students. Selection of students would be based on merit in the 10+2 examination with physics, chemistry and biology as subjects.

A student who has had his entire schooling in a rural area with a population not more than 10,000 would be eligible for selection, which would be done by professional bodies set up by the Directorate of Medical Education of the state governments.

The idea was to get students from rural areas who were willing to work in villages as doctors from outside didn’t want to live and work there, Mr. Desai said.

The ministry has already had two rounds of discussion on this scheme.

The proposal had been sent to the ministry way back in 2000, but has been dug out now to address the issue of lack of medical practitioners in the rural hinterland.

The BRMS graduates would be registered in a parallel mechanism by state medical boards. They would be allowed to practise only in the notified rural area from which they graduated.

“This new course would be of a shorter duration as the students would not be interested in learning about kidney transplants and angioplasties. It would instead concentrate on local diseases and basic health problems of the villages,” he said.